PICK up the Modern British reference books and you might just find a small mention of Edgar Hubert: born in Billingshurst, West Sussex in 1906; trained at the Slade; an exhibitor with the London Group from 1931 to 1947; died in obscurity (actually it was in Scafold, West Sussex) in 1985.
However, records of a secondary market for the man who
contributed significant works to the Objective Abstraction movement
of 1933-7 and exhibited regularly alongside Ben Nicholson and
William Scott are thinner on the ground. There is scarcely a record
of a Hubert selling in the saleroom.
Reputations come and go in the art world but that Hubert
contributed to his own anonymity is without question.
He was, by all accounts, an exceptionally shy man whose failure to
play the flesh-pressing game required of the successful artist left
the vast body of his work hidden since the 1950s in the possession
of three nieces. Accordingly, while prices for his contemporaries
in the Modern British School gathered momentum he was among those
names falling off the radar.
Hubert's descendants are, however, keen to have his work seen by a
new generation of picture buyers and their decision to offload 40
paintings from the estate provided The Fine Art Society with a rare
opportunity to hang an exhibition of Mod Brit pictures which are
not only academically interesting but also pleasing to the modern
eye and affordable.
Hubert might not be tried and tested in the saleroom but, in the
context of a market that is pushing prices by his contemporaries
into the stratosphere, pictures priced at £750-8500 evidently
looked very good value to FAS customers.
Helped by a whiff of market speculation (one buyer decided to take
16 pictures) all 40 works had sold out just two days after the
opening of the exhibition on Tuesday, March 14.
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